“Since my first ‘sexual’ experience was sexual abuse, I have never once been able to have an orgasm while having sex.”

Sexual abuse can have long term effects on physical health and emotional wellness.

The more early childhood trauma you were exposed to, the higher your risk for health and wellness challenges later on. But less well known is how past sexual abuse affects intimacy. I have been working with survivors for almost fifteen years and have heard anecdotally about survivor intimacy issues for just as long. This is an area where there is little hard data, however. So I conducted some research that looked at exactly this issue.

One of the first…

The REAL reason for all your yeses and no’s.

Quick quiz! Why do you say “yes” so much? Which answer in the picture above is the most accurate for you? A, B,C, D, or E?

The answer you choose tells me a lot about you. But those things may not be what you think. While there are no wrong answers to this question (only your beliefs about your own actions), there is a most accurate answer. An answer that is actually true for all of us. But before we get there, what answer did you choose?

Did you choose “d…

…or the practical tips you need for your words to be respected.

Photo credit: Jackson Simmer via Unsplash

A client of mine once said, “we need to train people” on how we want to be treated. In our conversation, I had said “teach people,” but she felt how people treat you is not a negotiation. I’m still thinking on the idea of “train” vs “teach”. But I do believe that you need to train people on sticky boundaries.

If you’re reading this, you may already struggle with boundaries. You’re not alone. I work with survivors of inter-personal trauma like sexual abuse. They often struggle with boundaries…

Here’s what you need to do instead.

Photo credit digitally enhanced drawing by Edvard Munch via Rawpixel

I glanced at a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article on grief that keeps turning up, bad penny style, on my social media. My first response was “duh,”. Then I looked closer.

The HBR author interviews grief.com founder David Kessler on why so many of us right now feel the way we do and what we can do about it. Kessler confirms that, yes, what we are feeling is grief and there are different griefs we’re experiencing. So far, this is obvious and pretty innocuous. And then Kessler is asked what individuals can do…

Building community and creating clarity in our world.

Photo credit: Rodeon Kutsaev via Unsplash

I was raised Catholic. Baptized, Sunday school for a few years. For a short while, my family breathed the church. My childhood home was even across the street from a seminary. But for some reason my mother, a volunteer Sunday school teacher, fell away from the church. We stopped attending mass. Today, neither my siblings or I are a part of any organized religion. I’m the only one who prays…or admits to it. My prayer is not an offering of my mind or heart to God, however. …

It’s easier than you think.

Image via Rawpixel

What’s the one thing you can do to get people to change? I’m talking about anyone, of any background, who actually wants to change. (Their desire to do so is the starting point, of course.) But after that, what can you do?

Lead with empathy.

If you really want someone to change, always lead your words (and subsequent actions) from a place of empathy.

You do this by being with someone in a compassionate, unhurried way with both of you communicating as equals. That’s active listening. If empathy is the car, active listening skills are…

Or the problem with teaching kids to just say “no”.

First Lady Nancy Reagan at ‘Just Say No’ rally against drugs — photo credit Cynthia Johnson — Getty Images

Along with fresh pencils and clean backpacks comes a renewed interest in child abuse prevention…as if the start of school coincides with a rise of predatory behavior. (There is no such correlation.) A common theme in that programming is the idea of “no” as a tool to keep kids safe, as mentioned in a recent story on NPR. While it might seem like an urgent lesson at first glance, parents and caregivers should look at “no” a bit more critically.

In In 1982 First Lady Nancy Reagan visited an elementary…

“All you need is love.”

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

“Good girls love bad boys.”

Combine these hackneyed platitudes with everyday women turned princess, the biggest party you’ll ever host, gowns with handmade lace trains and the social pressure to be coupled and you, too, will believe the hype. It’s almost impossible not to. But I’m here to tell you, stepping out in the peak of wedding season, that love is never The Answer.

The myth of love as the answer starts for many of us with fairy tales. A pretty damsel needs help. A willing, ripped…

“I believe you,” isn’t the ideal response that you’ve been taught it is.

Element5Digital via Unsplash

You want to do the right thing. And your friend/sister/partner may sense your willing spirit. They want to share their story without feeling judged. But they worry about being “too much”. In the past, they’ve been told to “get over it,” that they are making a “big deal” or are “too sensitive”. It happens a lot. You may know this. And you want to be different. …

Abusers steal trust, autonomy and safety from victims. Peer support groups offer power, choice and control to survivors.

Photo by Mink Mingle via Unsplash

Every Tuesday evening a little magic happens.

A group of women put their lives aside to gather and talk. For some of us with small children, it may be the one night of the week that we leave the house alone. Some women, whose kids are older or out of the house, arrive unfettered by schedule or babysitter. But we all share something in common.

“Now that she’s passed, there are things I can talk about,” said one of the women on…

Elizabeth M. Johnson, MA

I write about trauma, relationships and culture. Big reader, big eater. #SayNoMore. She/Her.

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